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Ultimate Guide How to Brush your Child’s Teeth

Little girl brushing teeth  

Oral hygiene plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health and well-being of children. Establishing good oral care habits from an early age can help prevent dental problems and promote a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. In this article, we will provide essential oral hygiene advice for children, including toothbrushing techniques, toothbrushing time, the use of mouthwash, the importance of flossing, and recommended fluoride concentration in toothpaste.

Toothbrushing Technique

Proper toothbrushing technique is essential for effective plaque removal and maintaining oral health. Here are some guidelines to ensure your child brushes their teeth correctly:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush suitable for your child’s age.
  • Electric toothbrushes can provide a more thorough clean but use any toothbrush your child prefers.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the brush.
  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short, circular motions.
  • Brush all tooth surfaces, including the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces.
  • Pay extra attention to the back teeth, where food particles often get trapped.

Toothbrushing Time

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) recommends brushing teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Supervise and assist your child to brush their teeth in the morning and before bed. To make it more enjoyable, you can use a timer or play their favourite song to help them keep track of the time. Remember, adequate brushing time ensures thorough cleaning and removes plaque effectively.

Recommended Fluoride Concentration in Toothpaste

Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the tooth enamel. The recommended fluoride concentration is between 1000ppm and 1500ppm:

  • For children under three years old: Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
  • For children three to six years old: Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Supervise your child’s toothbrushing to ensure they do not swallow the toothpaste.

Your dentist may prescribe a higher fluoride concentration toothpaste depending on risk of decay. You can ask your dentist for more information on this.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing is an essential part of oral hygiene that helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and along the gumline. Introduce flossing to your child as soon as their teeth start to touch. Here are some tips to make flossing easier:

  • Use a child-friendly flossing tool, such as floss picks or floss holders.
  • Show your child how to gently guide the floss between their teeth.
  • Ensure they curve the floss into a C shape around each tooth and move it up and down.
  • Encourage your child to floss at least once a day, preferably before bedtime.

No Mouthwash Use

Mouthwash contains only 225ppm of Fluoride whereas your toothpaste has 1450ppm. Using mouthwash straight after brushing washes away all this important fluoride. Twice daily brushing and flossing negates the need for any mouthwash. If you opt to use mouthwash for your child use it at a time other than after brushing and ensure it is alcohol free.


By following these oral hygiene tips, you can help your child maintain a healthy smile and prevent dental problems. Remember to lead by example and make oral care a fun and positive experience. Regular dental check-ups are also essential to monitor your child’s oral health and address any concerns. By promoting good oral hygiene habits, you are setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Lorna Breakenridge

Dental Nurse

Lorna qualified with an SVQ Level 7 in Dental Nursing from Mentor Training in 2021. Lorna says her favourite aspect of working in dentistry is being able to put people at ease and make them feel comfortable (you’ll definitely have heard her singing along to the radio if you’ve been in surgery with her).

She particularly enjoys working with children and helping them to overcome any fears they may have. In her spare time Lorna enjoys travelling, trying new foods and whilst she won’t admit it, she’s a karaoke queen (her rendition of The real Slim Shady is really something to behold).

She says her greatest achievement to date is passing her driving test at the start of 2023, much to the relief of her parents and Pam who were having to drive her to/from work every day.

Alicia Dillon

Dental Therapist

Alicia’s full bio will be ready shortly!


Hazel Hannigan


Hazel graduated with Honours from Glasgow Dental School in 2010, receiving the Dean Webster and Lord Provost prizes for being the highest performing student in her year. In 2012 she became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow after completing her MFDS examinations. 

She then spent some time in the public dental services, focussing on the treatment of children, anxious patients and those with additional support needs, before working as a general dental practitioner in practices based in Alexandria and Airdrie.

In July 2016, Hazel and her husband, Pearse, established Hannigan Dental Care, making the leap from associates to principal dentists. Hazel has lots of experience treating anxious patients, having logged hundreds of hours of sedation over her career, but she says she especially enjoys treating children, even more so since becoming a mum herself.

She believes forging good relationships with children as early as possible helps prevent dental anxieties ever developing and feels very lucky to be in a position where she can see families regularly and watch children grow and develop year on year. Out with clinical dentistry, Hazel is the vice chair of the Lanarkshire Local Dental Committee, and also holds seats on Lanarkshire’s GP Subcommittee and Area Dental Advisory Committee, groups which represent NHS dentists in communications with the health board and Scottish Government. Hazel’s hobbies include baking, reading and walking and one day she hopes to have some free time to actually practice them again.


John McCall


John qualified in Dentistry from the University of Glasgow with Commendation in 2018. His professional journey encompasses a broad spectrum of training within General Dental Practices, hospitals, and the Public Dental Service. 

These training roles included working in Paediatric Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, Oral Surgery, and Maxillofacial Surgery. This diverse expertise enables him to deliver unparalleled care to his patients.

Since his graduation, John has been dedicated to treating anxious paediatric patients, leveraging advanced technologies such as “The Wand” for pain-free anaesthesia. His proficiency in this area has led him to provide valuable training and courses to both General Dental Practices and the Public Dental Service. Furthermore, for the past five years, John has been practicing Inhalation Sedation, contributing to his role as a mentor in sedation training for dental professionals.

His academic achievements include Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians Glasgow and a Postgraduate Certificate in Dental Education. Currently, John serves as an Honorary Clinical Teacher in Paediatric Dentistry at the University of Glasgow, where he passionately guides future dentists in compassionate patient care. His contributions to dental education are complemented by his research published in the European Journal of Dental Education.

Beyond his professional life, John is a former elite track and field sprint hurdler and sprinter, having proudly represented and captained Scotland in international competitions and still holds Scottish and Celtic records over sprint hurdles. Although retired from competitive sports, he remains active, undertaking challenges for charity, such as the Ultra Marathon Spartan Race, and is preparing for the 70.3 Ironman triathlon in June 2024.